Scholar Athlete Stamps Ticket to Queen's Plate
West Point Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old Einstein gelding Scholar Athlete took them gate to wire in a tough Belmont allowance race on Thursday, establishing himself as a top contender for the $1,000,000 Queen’s Plate run on July 3 at Woodbine.
Trained by Graham Motion, Scholar Athlete pulled an 8-1 upset under leading jockey Jose Ortiz. NYRA on air personality Andy Serling picked Scholar Athlete on top in the paddock mainly because he was running as a first time gelding and adding blinkers for the first time. The combination helped him make the grade.
“He was a very professional as a two-year-old, but when we got him down to Florida this winter he started getting more interested in the girls,” said Graham Motion. “We ran him in the Rushaway at Turfway last time and he was really wound up in the paddock and goofing off during the race, so it made a lot of sense to geld him at that point. He bounced back quickly and we knew if he was competitive in a tough race like this at Belmont, he belongs in the Queen’s Plate.”
Scholar Athlete was purchased by the West Point buying team from breeder Adena Springs at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton 2-Year-Old in Training Sale held at Gulfstream Park.
“When they pulled him out of the barn at the sale, our eyebrows raised,” said West Point president Terry Finley. “There was something about him that really caught our eye. He’s not the biggest horse in the world, but is extremely agile and light on his feet. Einstein isn’t a household name as a sire so we thought there was a pretty good chance we could get him under the black and gold without spending a fortune. A number of his Partners are planning to head to Toronto to the race and we’re pumped knowing there’s a legitimate chance we get to hold the coveted Queen’s Plate trophy.”
Scholar Athlete is named after Terry and Debbie Finley’s son Ryan, a soccer player who graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He was named to the NSCAA All- American First Team and earned Big East Player of the Year. Currently he plays professionally in Sweden.